Oral glutamine ameliorates chemotherapy-induced changes of intestinal permeability and does not interfere with the antitumor effect of chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer: a prospective randomized trial

Tumori. Sep-Oct 2006;92(5):396-401.


Aims and background: Sixty patients with breast cancer were randomly assigned to oral glutamine or placebo pre-neoadjuvant chemotherapy (CEF regimen).

Methods and study design: Oral glutamine supplementation was continued for at least 12 days. Patients kept a daily record of diarrhea and stomatitis. The plasma glutamine level, intestinal permeability (lactulose-mannitol test), and tumor size were analyzed. The expression of Ki-67 and PCNA antigens in breast carcinoma was assessed.

Results: The plasma glutamine level was significantly higher in the glutamine group than in the placebo group (420.39 +/- 52.39 mmol/L vs 309.76 +/- 42.34 mmol/L, P < 0.05). After one cycle of chemotherapy, the lactulose-mannitol ratio was higher in the placebo group than in the glutamine group (0.0630 +/- 0.0091 vs 0.0471 +/- 0.0094, P < 0.05). No differences were observed in the grades of stomatitis and diarrhea, in the changes in tumor size, and in the expression of Ki-67 and PCNA antigens between the two groups.

Conclusions: Prophylactic oral glutamine could ameliorate the neoadjuvant chemotherapy-induced increase in intestinal permeability, but had no significant positive clinical effect on stomatitis and diarrhea and did not interfere with the antitumor effect of chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Capillary Permeability / drug effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Glutamine / administration & dosage
  • Glutamine / blood
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Glutamine